7 Young Adult Novels Written by Young Adult Women
What were you doing in high school? Sneaking vodka from your parents' liquor cabinet, going to Friday night football games, or, for some of you lucky ones, dating? While most of us were bumbling through dodgeball during gym glass, these seven women were writing and publishing their debut novels.
At an average age of 17, these writers published novels about vampires, drama groups, and the ups and downs of growing up, meeting friends, considering abortion, and living on the outskirts of society. They come from across the United States — Oklahoma, Maryland — and from the United Kingdom, Australia, and Ireland. Many had continued to have success into their adult years; some are just getting started. All of them, however, will make you feel like you should be working a little harder.
'Seventeenth Summer' by Maureen Daly, Age 21
Daly began writing the coming-of-age novel Seventeenth Summer when she was 17 herself, thought it was not published until 1942 when she was 21. The book, which centers around a high school romance during the last summer before college, is widely considered the first true YA novel — and it was fairly controversial for its time because of the sexuality, underage drinking, and smoking. Daly died in 2006, leaving behind her YA legacy and themes that have been adopted by many, many authors since.
Image: Simon Pulse
'The Shadow Thief' by Alexandra Adornetto, Age 15
Australian author Adornetto was just 13 when she wrote her first book, The Shadow Thief, over school vacations. It was published in 1992 when she was 15. Adornetto wrote two sequels to her first novel and started on her second trilogy, called Halo, when she was still in her teens. The teenager submitted her manuscript for The Shadow Thief to HarperCollins after doing extensive research on Australian publishing houses, ensuring she had followed submission guidelines to the letter. According to her author page on Goodreads, Adornetto claims that it took HarperCollins 24 weeks to respond with her first publishing deal.
Image: HarperCollins Publishers
'The Icarus Girl' by Helen Oyeyemi, Age 21
British writer Oyeyemi completed The Icarus Girl while she was still studying for her A Level exams to enter college. But her success didn’t stop there; Oyeyemi published several more novels into her 20s, and this year at age 29 she was named to Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists list. The Icarus Girl draws on Nigerian mythology, telling a haunting story of a young girl with a British father and Nigerian mother.
'In the Forests of the Night' by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Age 14
Long before Twilight and Vampire Academy, Atwater-Rhodes was writing her first novel about 300-year-old vampire Risika, who was once a god-fearing teenager named Rachel. Atwater-Rhodes wrote In the Forests of the Night — alluding to poet William Blake’s “The Tyger” in its title — when she was 13, and it was published in 1999 when she was 14. According to a feature on Salon, Atwater-Rhodes’ parents encouraged their daughter to read voraciously, and pick anything she wanted. She chose vampire books by horror writer Christopher Pike, which inspired her own work.
Image: Laurel Leaf
'The Swish of the Curtain' by Pamela Brown, Age 16
Pamela Brown did not rest on her laurels after publishing a well-received novel at 16; she used her earnings from the book to receive acting training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic art and built a long career as a YA novelist, actress, and children’s television producer at BBC before her death in 1989, according to her IMDB page.The Swish of the Curtain, which echoes Brown’s love of the stage and entertainment industry, tells the story of seven young people who form an amateur theater troupe. Brown wrote the majority of her novel when she was 13 in 1938, but when World War II broke out, her family was uprooted to Wales, and her book was not published until years later.
Image: Longwater Books
'Yellow Socks and Blood Spots' by Bailey J. Thompson, Age 18
Yellow Socks and Blood Spots tackles the difficult subject of teen pregnancy and the arising debates around abortion, adoption, and teen motherhood, as well as the pressures teenagers can receive while making the decision from family, friends, and the father. Who else would be able to sort through these issues from a teen’s perspective than a teenager herself? Thompson, who drew inspiration from tough-subject veteran Judy Blume, was just 17 when she wrote her debut novel, the same age as her main character.
'The Outsiders' by S.E. Hinton, Age 18
Long before the Karate Kid Ralph Macchio told ’80s icon C. Thomas Howell to ”Stay gold, Ponyboy,” Hinton was imagining up the world of The Outsiders. Hinton became a household name while still a teenager in the 1960s when her book about two rival gangs in Oklahoma was published and became incredibly popular. While her work was made into a movie and a short-lived TV show, Hinton’s novel continues to be one of the American Library Association’s most challenged books for its depictions of gang violence, smoking, underage drinking, and language.
Image: Penguin Random House